Edo Educational Reform: Over 5-year Of I.C.E Sleeping Like An “ICE” After Producing Governor Obaseki
Eben Enasco Reporting.
In the early 80s/90s, the Institute of Continuing Education, I.C.E., was a remedial study institute that rescued many students who couldn’t pass and obtain their O’level Certificates from their Conventional Secondary Schools before gaining admission into higher Institutions.
According to reports, before the establishment of the I.C.E, intending students would have to travel a long distance to St. Patrick’s College, Asaba, now in Delta State, to obtain an A-level Certificate.
However, with its establishment, a huge limitation was heaved off the shoulders of the parents of youths and civil servants who were eager to attain requirements for admissions into universities and other institutions of higher learning, across the board.
The school operated two sections.
Morning and Evening sessions in the sciences, arts, commercial and social sciences with students coming from the high and the low class, from far and near, together with the upper and middle classes.
Many who are big fishes and captains of industries today, had this similar challenges while craving to build their careers.
The atmosphere around the school was highly commercialized with petty traders profiting at various levels.
It was all fanfare for the surrounding secondary schools, Ihogbe and Akenzua Secondary Schools.
Some students who came from other parts of the Country had to rent apartments, which in tune generated revenues for landlords around there as their means of livelihood.
Even, Governor Godwin Obaseki before gaining admission into the University of Ibadan after his early education at St. Matthew’s Primary School and the Eghosa Grammar School, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics, his ICE results obtained saved the day for him like every other citizen.
ICE as a Secondary education hub served as a recipe for those who could not pass their level of education to go to their primary sources of Educational Background to enable them to pursue higher education.
Aside from its pathways, for retaking examinations, ICE also had a highly structured four-year high school that prepared students for their WASC examination to pursue further education, such as the university or Polytechnic.
This section of the institute offered opportunities to adult Education seekers, especially civil servants who only got their jobs with the statutory secondary school certificates and still had the desire to study further for high school certificates.
The institute also had a window for graduates of high schools, including civil servants, seeking an opportunity to study for their Advanced level education to proceed to the university.
But today, the institution is a shadow of itself.
Commercial activities grounded
as grasses and myriads of insects have taken over a once-busy study complex.
Worse is that, the institution was partitioned to accommodate the Edo innovation hub which has since slid from its originality to a whirlwind that urgently requires the governor’s visitation if he cares.
Millions were spent to create this hub but the productivity has since been allowed off since Ukinobo Dare left it off.
When it first started operation, very big multinationals like Multichoice often hold training seminars in that building from where job recruitment programs like Edo Jobs operated.
When our crew visited there, the managers complained of poor electricity supply. They claimed a generator set was purchased with millions but can’t serve the purpose.
The irony is that for more than five years now the Institute of Continuing Education, ICE, which the Governor claimed to have attended has been closed down by the same Governor.
Some people could not even obtain their certificates after the closure.
The question is that, if a government decides to close down an institution, closing it down permanently should not have been an option.
Now, what happened to those who paid academic tuition fee? Can he bring back the years spent after the closure?
By implication, the fate of thousands of Edo Youths who would have taken advantage of the remedial facility like he did when he, Godwin Obaseki could not pass his WASC in 1973, at a go has also been sealed.
Edo State elites, Civil Society Coalitions, and other related interest groups should be deeply outraged by the unwarranted onslaught against the closure of the institution with the lifetime ladder these elites rode to recognition and prominence.
The opportunity for higher education by the single most important bridge that ferried many of them from the Valley of Life to become top flyers in various fields of endeavor.
History will be unkind to them if they stand by to watch helplessly the unprovoked and unwarranted abandonment of the structures of ICE in Edo State.
They should be challenged by the endangered future of Edo youths to speak out in no unmistakable terms against the needless suffocation of this institution, which was established to expand ties for the development of our children.
The Institute of Continuing Education ICE, Benin City, Edo State of Nigeria was once a school of excellence.
It was an academic center managed by seasoned professionals and teachers.
The success recorded at the JAMB, NECO & WAEC local and external examinations was high partly due to the existence of the Institute.
Among the benefits, was that Edo State attained excellence in academic pursuit and attainment in Nigeria when the institute was there.
Although, at some stage in its existence, it fell into a bad time and became an all-comers’ affair.
ICE which was once an academic hub in the state became an academic prodigy center, where examination malpractice was the order of the day.
This was attributed to a lack of oversight due to sheer neglect by successive governments.
Outside this share neglects, administrators too had a field day dipping their hands in its accounts just as they reportedly committed all manners of fraud as they could not remit funds generated into the account.
Reports had it that after Godwin Obaseki, the current Edo governor visited the school in 2017, he immediately shut it down following incidents of corruption ascribed to the institute’s administration.
More than five years after the governor took that decision, the Institute is in ruins, rotting away, with a massive bush prevailing, air conditioners, cars, laboratory equipment, the classes and equipment worth some millions are in one form of decay or the other.
When our correspondent visited the school, with horticulture now planting and selling flowers as a means of survival, some passersby and residents shared their opinions.
Joshua Omoragbon said it was not the wisest of decisions to close down the school for such a long time, calling for an urgent reawakening of the institute.
“How can you close down an institute like this my brother without alternatives? What was the Governor thinking before his action? We are surprised that after these years the school is still not reopened”, Joshua Omoragbon said
Madam Roseline Aigbonfo, a house owner and an orange seller around the school said they all struggle now to keep tide with their living conditions after the government shutdown institute.
She explained that most people are not against the decision of the governor to shut down ICE; but why shut it down without attending to the issues responsible for the decay that made the government shut it down?
According to her, it is better to bring down the buildings, renovate and change the leadership structure of the institution than leave it to wear and tear.
“If people were stealing the monies, he could have used the cashless system to checkmate them.” she quipped.
She appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki to reopen the school, while lamenting the upset caused them.
But in what seems to be a beam of light, our source gathered that the Ministry of Education led by Joan Oviawe recently visited the college to take an estimate in an attempt to revive the now derailed institute.
The source said the ministry, had visited in late 2022 and early 2023 and plans are on their way to start the rebuilding process.
It is not clear, whether it is I.C.E that will come back as a school or another plan on the pipeline, that is between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his challenging policies.
The expectation is to see a new I.C . E as a remedial study or something close to that, equipped with world-class facilities to a fault that will erase the years of absence of an institution that has produced scholars in their various endeavors.